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I should’ve anticipated the optics,” Obama said on Sunday in an interview on NBC’s Meet the Press. He said that he did not adequately consider how some would feel about his dispassion in the aftermath of that attack on the United States by ISIS.
“But part of this job is also the theater,” he said. “It’s not something that always comes naturally to me. But it matters, and I’m mindful of that.”
Displaying compassion for the Foley family and those Americans rocked by this gruesome affront by appearing somber and reserved – even at the expense of a whole day of vacation – is, in Obama’s opinion, just more of the burdensome performance art that the public has come to expect of their commander-in-chief.
That may be slightly more insulting than if he had just golfed away the day and never acknowledged it again.
Obama sounded a bit resentful of the fact that the media had made the post-Foley speech golf outing an issue. “I think everybody who knows me, including, I suspect, the press, understands that that, you know, you take this stuff in,” Obama said. “And it’s serious business. And you care about it deeply.”
“You take this stuff” — those pesky world events you keep reading about the paper and on TV and interrupt your late night bull sessions with rock stars, Hollywood actors and “interesting Italians.” And then you talk about yourself in the third person, to further distance yourself from all of the bad things that seem to happen to you alone for mysteriously inexplicable reasons. And then you say goofy things such as:
“Part of this job is also the theater of it,” Obama said, adding that “it’s not something that always comes naturally to me. But it matters.”
Sure, theater isn’t something that comes naturally to you. Except when it does:
The guy with the Greek columns who campaigned in Berlin doesn’t like the theater of politics. Uh huh.
— Jonah Goldberg (@JonahNRO) September 7, 2014
“For Obama’s fanbois, this is not politics. This isn’t even America, not really, not anymore,” Ace presciently noted back in December. “This is a movie:”
And Barack Obama is the Hero. And the Republicans are the Villains. And policy questions — and Obama’s myriad failures as an executive — are simply incidental. They are MacGuffins only, of no importance whatsoever, except to the extent they provide opportunities for Drama as the Hero fights in favor of them.
Watching Chris Matthews interview Obama, I was struck by just how uninterested in policy questions Matthews (and his panel) were, and how almost every question seemed to be, at heart, about Obama’s emotional response to difficulties– not about policy itself, but about Obama’s Hero’s Journey in navigating the plot of President Barack Obama: The Movie.
As with a MacGuffin in the movie, only the Hero’s emotional response to the MacGuffin matters.
Again and again, Matthews and his panel focused not on weighty questions of state, but on what toll these important-sounding MacGuffins took upon the Star of the Picture, Barack Obama.
Matthews was not terribly interested in hearing about the problems with Obamacare, or how Obama planned to address them.
But he was very interested in learning how Obama was coping with the challenges.
And the fanbois continue to drool over the World’s Biggest Celebrity:
— S.M (@redsteeze) September 7, 2014
Indeed. Good thing the recently retired former president practices his brand of political theater so infrequently.
Update: “Obama Regrets ‘Optics,’ But Not the Golf, After Beheading.”